*Screams* I LOVE THIS TROPE SO MUCH!
As a trope, this is something we see in stories all the time. Why? Because it's something most readers are suckers for.
In this category I'm also going to include the Enemies to Friends trope, because it's the same thing just without the romance.
Part of the reason this reads so deliciously is because it's a tangible way to show character development. Both characters have grown enough to see each other for what they really are, not just for who they were.
From a writing perspective, these relationships provide so much natural fire, spark, and tension that it's easy to write them in an entertaining way.
After all, if you've fought for decades, and you've given each other scars, while it might not be a healthy relationship, from a writing standpoint it's very easy to have the two cuddling and running their fingers over each other's scars, teasing each other for the pain they've caused the other. Because it's mutual.
"Remember when I gave you this one?"
"Yeah, you put me in the hospital for a week."
"Oh come on, it was right after you broke my leg. I couldn't fight you for a month."
And while this interaction is a fun one, it's not the full extent of the trope. This allows for the villainous character to redirect their villainy toward whatever is hurting their hero, causing them to move toward the light in some ways. And vice versa, the hero may be pulled into some questionable activities in a compromise.
We see this in the show Leverage, where Nathan Ford is an ex insurance investigator and Sophie Deveroux is a grifter extraordinaire. They met when he was chasing her to put her in prison. He ends up bringing her onto a crew that only steals from corrupt individuals, and their romance blossoms.
Another con man/insurance investigator example is Neal Caffrey and Sarah Ellis from White Collar. In a compromise, she pulls him into helping her on cases. In order to help her, he pulls her into cons. This puts an incredible tension on their relationship, because she can't be the squeaky clean law abider as long as he's in her life. But he is much closer to the role of law abider by having her with him. That tension of who's corrupting who makes this romance even more interesting than it would be had they just met on the street as two normal, law abiding citizens.
But what about the Enemies to Friends trope?
The most potent example that comes to mind is Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender.
After spending years tracking down Aang to kill him, he eventually understands that he may have been wrong, and he needs the Avatar more than he needs to kill him. In order to save the world, they have to work together. And Zuko, ready to bite the bullet and get that interaction over with, plans his approach.
He completes the team. They couldn't have been ready to take on the Fire Lord without Zuko's help. And the friendship they begin then continues on to the rest of their lives.
What's your favorite enemies to lovers example? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?
Let me know on social media, @authorjjhanna.
J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.